Services give Korean online retailers the edge

Online shopping operators are turning to personalised services as they try to differentiate themselves in a burgeoning industry.

eCommerce sites are no longer just selling and quick-shipping products: they are taking care of small tasks like shoe polishing through to more extensive services that include interior remodelling, industry watchers say.

Further blurring the online-offline boundary, these operators are taking broader steps by putting together an array of services instead of specialising in a single category like food delivery and cab hailing. Prices range from 6000 won (US$5) for a shoe shine to 40,000 won for a car wash.

11st Street started running “Life Plus” on its mobile application last week, offering visiting services for car washing, house cleaning, laundry pickup, custom shoes and shirts, and home interior. Customers can place their orders online and receive the services when and where they want. They are entitled to the same discounts, coupons and payment tools as people shopping for goods.

Some of the services are not yet available nationwide, but 11st Street plans to fix that soon and add more choices.

“We put out Life Plus first as an O2O (online-to-offline) service category, and we intend to turn it into an O2O service portal,” a company spokesman said.

Industry competitor Gmarket started a home cleaning service this month, covering home appliances, kitchens and bathrooms. The service offers detailed cleaning, such as for mattresses, kitchen hoods and washing machines to bidets.

“We will be expanding what we have to overall home management – moving, insect control, home organising and such,” said Sohn Hyung-sool, head of the life and kitchen team at Gmarket. renewed its rental services last month, more than doubling the number of service providers that now have added car tires, bidets and massage chairs. The online market can also send people to take care of the elderly. The company said it lets customers pre-consult before ordering so that they can consider available options without pressure.

“Our website for offered services was more about advertising,” a company official said. “It will be changing soon to show the specific price for each service and to give customers easier access to consulting and purchasing.”


  • Original reporting by Yonhap.



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